By Gene Krebs
While Ohio’s tax obligation as a percentage of income is ranked 33rd highest of the 50 states, we are ranked a stunning 6th highest for local tax obligation. This could be blamed on many things by many people, but there is another fact that also stands out. Nationally, there are 27.9 local governments per county. Ohio has 41.3 local governments per county. This is driven not just by cost, but also a fractured governmental structure, leading to a cacophony of voices raised in economic development efforts.
It is not that we have too little economic development in Ohio; we have too much economic development bureaucracy. Not only does this lead to churning and poaching of one business from a community to one just down the road (leading to no or little economic benefit to the community as a whole), the myriad rules and local regulations inhibit businesses from locating in those small box counties.
One of the solutions to this lack of coordinated economic development is something that Greater Ohio has been pushing for several years- a fund to encourage collaboration, sharing services and consolidation of back office operations.
The Local Government Innovation Fund (LGIF) was created in the last budget to foster that change. Many of our earlier language suggestions were adopted directly by the General Assembly, and for that we are grateful. The LGIF was established to provide financial assistance to Ohio political subdivisions for planning and implementing projects that are designed to create more efficient and effective service delivery within a specific discipline of government services for one or more entities. Projects are also expected to facilitate improved business environments and promote community attraction.
The LGIF program will award up to $100,000 in grant funds per feasibility study, up to $100,000 in loan assistance per entity for demonstration projects, and up to $500,000 in loan assistance for multi-entity projects to be used for demonstration projects.
There are five scheduled five LGIF information sessions to explain the upcoming Innovation Grant & Loan Application and Program. Please click here for additional information about the program and regional informational sessions; click here for more information on the application.
The LGIF is managed by the Local Government Innovation Council; Governor Kasich graciously appointed me to serve on the council in the position as an advocate for the citizens of Ohio (I serve without pay, in case you were wondering). I am looking forward to working with the rest of the council and the able staff of the Ohio Department of Development.